The drought is taking its toll not only in my home in the New England area but across much of Australia, and as most of you would know, its effects are wide reaching. An unexpected effect is injury caused by carting buckets of water around. We have had several people present to the clinic with shoulder and back problems from repeatedly lifting buckets filled with grey water from the bathroom to the garden.
Firstly, the heavy load can lead to rotator cuff problems in the shoulder. 10 litres of water in a bucket (which is 10kgs + the weight of the bucket) is quite a decent load and if lifted repeatedly will upset the rotator cuff with small microtears in the muscles that support the shoulder. Reducing the load to 5 litres and you will reduce the lift to 5 kg and reduce the risk of experiencing problems.
Secondly, the repeated bending and lifting of a heavy load of water can and does overstress the lumbar discs. Repeatedly lifting 10kg can also load up the spine and lead to a disc bulge.
What can be done to help prevent the likelihood of injury?
- Have a good lifting technique
- Reduce the load
- Improve strength around the lower back and shoulders
- Correct lifting technique: bending from the hips and knees rather than the lower back is critical in protecting the lower back (lumbar spine.) The muscles in the legs are designed to take larger loads while the lower back muscles which are much smaller are not. So, try to bend from the hips and knees.
- Plan the lift: a small amount of time (even 10 seconds) of planning can help reduce the chance of injury – getting the load closer to the body or removing objects in the path of the lift is part of that planning.
- Keeping a strong core: a strong group of core muscles combined with bracing will help protect the lower back with repeated lifting and lifting heavy objects. Brace the abdomen and engage the pelvic floor muscles and keep your shoulders strong before you lift.
Strengthening exercises for the shoulders and lower back:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. Start with your arms beside you.
- Lift your arms off the floor and tuck your chin to your chest.
- Reach your hands towards your feet and lift your head, shoulders and trunk off the floor.
- Return to the starting position, controlling the movement as you curl back down, keeping your chin tucked in.
- Lie on your front face down with your hands on the floor shoulder width apart and your fingers facing forwards
- Press up using your arms and shoulders, extending the elbows & lifting your chest & body from the floor up onto your toes
- Lift to a position ensuring you have a straight line from your head to your feet.
- Keep your core muscles tight & do not arch or sag your back
- Bend your elbows, lowering your chest down to the floor, keeping your body completely straight as you return
If this push-up is too difficult try this from your knees or a wall.
Hope you are having a great weekend, and this helps, Deb.